This episode marked a turning point in both plotlines and mythology for the show, and the swift and somewhat brutal introduction of three new characters – two in particular – has seen the mystery bar raised yet again to another echelon. I’ve stopped asking myself how they do that, and have now embraced the fact that they just can; kind of like when you’re watching a contortionist fit their entire body through the frame of an unstrung tennis racquet, there really does come a point when you stop asking questions about the how’s and just stick with the WHYS.
With that in mind, here’s my take on the moments that made us all sit up and yell WHAT THE FREAKING SALVATORE at our televisions.
And You Thought YOU Were Having A Bad Day
Elena Gilbert is having a rough 24 hours.
She’s been vicariously stabbed and beaten via a curse (saved only by some quick thinking and a conveniently magic-enabled best friend nearby) and is still smarting from breaking up with her one true love. I’ll be honest here: if I were the human girl who’d just broken up with Stefan Salvatore, I’d be reaching for my PJ’s, a fluffy pillow to cry into and a tub of Haagen-Dazs the size of a nine year old faster than you can say DASHING.
But hey! Don’t just ask her how crap a day she’s dealing with: ask the boyfriend she refused to get back together with; the brother of her boyfriend who is also completely and unrequitedly in love with her, or any number of her nearest and dearest who’ve just spent the night before plotting to kill her Queen of All Evil twin with giant stake guns and tombs spells.
Or, as of this episode, you could likewise ask the mysterious man in the mask who abducted her so suddenly from the Lockwood estate after the Masquerade party.
It’s broad daylight as his car pulls up into an empty field in the middle of nowhere; empty, save for the 4WD with black windows parked out in it, presumably waiting to do a swap. The window of the driver side of the 4WD lowers just enough to reveal a pair of black shaded eyes, revealing two things: a) it is a vampire who organised for Elena to be abducted, and b) that the kidnapper is actually just an average Joe: another quite visibly compelled guy doing the bidding of yet another vampire.
I don’t know about you, but at this point I couldn’t help but think about how compulsion – for all it’s convenience, and save for the few truly noble times we’ve seen it done to a human – really was being used by an awful lot of vampires to make good people do some very bad things, often with rather deadly consequences.
After asking his unwitting delivery boy to dump the girl into the back of his truck, the vampire beckons the man just close enough into the shadows of the car to take a good ol’ drag from his juicy neck.
The vampire drives away, leaving the body and empty car out into the field.
What is it with the vampiric community and their thinking they can just leave bodies wherever they feel like it. The undead, I-Laugh-In-The-Face-Of-CSI nerve.
In any case, back at the Gilbert house, Jeremy goes to look in on Elena, only to discover that she isn’t there, nor has her bed been slept in.
Jah dahlink. Das iz bad news.
Mystic Falls High: Truancy Capital of The Universe
Also getting ready for the day is Caroline. Amazingly, it’s daylight in Mystic Falls and they’re not partying, or preparing for a party, or cleaning up after a party. What can they possibly doing? Heading to school! Which as it turns out, between all their killing, maiming, kissing and noble battle planning, they do still actually attend! I can’t help but think if Mr Tanner was still around and in possession of a working jugular, he and the PTA would have cracked down on this non attendance thing ages ago.
Seriously. All this secret supernatural hullaballoo has really highlighted the need to elect a less lazy-assed School Board sometime soon.
As for Caroline though, she prepares to head to class while discussing Tyler’s new status with Damon who has come over that morning presumably to find out exactly what has happened now that Tyler’s curse has been triggered.
After hearing Caroline describe what she did for Tyler in covering for him when Sarah was killed, Damon makes it clear just how dangerous it would be if he found out there were actually such things as vampires, and warns her not to become friends with the younger Lockwood. Caroline understands exactly where he’s coming from, but you can see that regardless of this, she does not view Tyler quite like Damon does. They also discuss the difficulty the Sherriff is having in trying to find Aimee Bradley, who is still listed as missing. Damon tells Caroline where the body is – at the bottom of a ravine having appeared to take a fall that would mask the injuries sustained by Katherine.
In a completely shallow note, waking up to find a Salvatore in your house wanting to hear everything you have to say? Ahem. I wants one.
At school, Tyler is walking through the halls, incredibly conscious of the posters declaring Aimee as missing, but most of all – due to the secret fact the he was the one responsible for her death – the shrine to Sarah. Every move he makes is skittish and jumpy; his new found and as such unpredictable strength sees him rip the lock from his school locker clear out without even a hint of effort.
Jeremy runs into Stefan in the school halls and asks about Elena, thinking they have gotten back together now Katherine’s in the tomb. Jeremy even chides his sister’s ex about being sloppy, indicating that if he is needed to cover for her sleepovers at the Salvatore mansion, the two of them should probably give him a little more warning.
Confused, Jeremy says that Elena’s bed hasn’t been slept in and that Carol Lockwood called to say his sister’s car is still at their house after the Masquerade ball. When Stefan tells Jeremy they weren’t together that night because they’re still separated, the awful penny drops for them both: Elena is missing, and whoever took her has a big head start.
Frankly My Dear, I Don’t Give A Doppelganger
The day is getting on as the 4WD pulls up to an old and seemingly abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. If you’ve ever been an old movie watcher, it has that sad and slightly disturbing appearance of Tara – the civil war plantation house from Gone With The Wind after they come back when the civil war is over. It’s grand in size and from the looks of it was once in style as well; now however, it sits aged, broken down and in great need of repair as it sits almost entirely boarded up from inside.
Carrying a disorientated Elena in to the house, the man in black dumps her on a tattered couch. Her shirt still bears the blood stain from when Katherine was attacked, when still linked to her evil twin via Lucy’s now broken curse. The man is a younger one, a vampire turned somewhere perhaps in his early twenties, and one who is a) clearly taking ALL his fashion tips from Johnny Cash, and b) definitely not the vegetarian Stefan is when it comes to human blood. Just as he tries to bite though, a woman’s voice calls out for him to stop.
Enter the woman herself.
Played by the razor-sharp and beautiful Lauren Cohan – who many of you may remember from her badass but ultimately ill-fated turn as Bela Talbot on Supernatural – one can’t help but immediately sit up and take notice of her general onscreen presence. Elena – in quite possibly one of her more dopey moves to date – gets up and immediately requests answers from her captors as to who they are, why they’ve taken her. How many times did Rose tell her to put a sock in it? Like three? Either way, no matter how valid her questions are, turning little miss chatterbox doesn’t really help the prisoner – Rose has enough and slaps Elena up the face and clear across the way, straight back on to the couch, leaving her unconscious again.
Don’t know about you but I’m pretty sure my ancestors heard that slap, it was so damn big. YEOWCH.
Now that he knows Elena is missing, Stefan discussed options with Damon. Damon tells Stefan about Katherine’s last ditch info bomb regarding Elena being a doppelganger and in danger. Rightly so, Damon is skeptical but Stefan immediately wants to go talk to her. The elder Salvatore – playing wise brother for once – says ‘bad idea’. Stefan simply says ‘It’s Elena.’
Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf?
Not Caroline Forbes, apparently.
Tyler makes it clear from the moment he sees her, how eager he is to pick her brain for answers. From their first confrontation, Tyler questions Caroline’s knowledge: how did she know about his wound at the party? How could she know? But Caroline plays as dumb as she can about the werewolf question. As the day draws on, Tyler continues to get more and more freaked out about the new strength he feels coursing untethered through his veins. Later, as he plays basketball with the other boys, even other people are noticing his newfound athletic prowess. His insane wolfy skills – most notably strength – are starting to become evident. He knows this, and again confronts Caroline. He knows she lied. He tries to man handle her, but she is supernaturally stronger than him and puts him down with a brute strength that more that matches his own. Despite this obviously more-than-human display, though, again she refuses his argument that she knows more about him than she’s letting on, and in anger he slam kicks a garbage tin sending it flying.
Later when Caroline gets home from school, Tyler is there in her house waiting – something she realises for herself almost immediately. He thinks he knows what she is. He says she’s just like him. For the record, when he accuses her of being a werewolf and lying about it, her giggle in response was so awesome I wanted to download it and make it my ringtone.
Tyler however, not feelin’ it quite the same: he slams her against a wall. To defend herself she turns vampire, and reveals her new, true nature as a vampire. Putting aside the shock of the new Mr Wolf of Mystic Falls’ expression, the fact that in one day, you spend the morning with Damon Salvatore wanting your undivided attention, your evening consoling Tyler Lockwood and your every other waking moment pining for your true love Matt Donovan – Caroline Forbes, alive or undead, I want to grow up and be you, missus. Cause HOTTDAMN. Talk about a man magnet. But, it is their later interaction that had us all buzzing ultimately.
Caroline pours Tyler a drink, telling him how the alcohol is good for taking the edge of how they feel. They discuss their heightened senses, but she keeps it quiet that there are more vampires than just her. She tells him that he cannot – must not – tell anyone about them and what they are. Life and death. Tyler says he has no-one else to tell. Tyler tells Caroline just how afraid he is of turning. She hugs him tightly. Um, Matt? I’m smellin’ a lurve triangle, sugar. You need to get yourself back in the game and NOW.
Letting In, Versus Letting Go
Elena wakes up hearing her captors discussing. Someone named Elijah has been told about her capture, and it doesn’t take long to deduce that whoever Elijah is, he is bad news and big time. Worse still, in eavesdropping it becomes clear Elena is their bargaining chip to escape him. Either way, she is trapped and the only option her friends have of finding her seems to lie with with a psychopathic vampire hell bent on doing whatever it takes to escape her tomb. With this in mind, back in Mystic Falls Stefan and Jeremy seek out Bonnie, and the younger Salvatore asks her about the Katherine dilemma. It’s true: he’d do anything to save Elena, but at the same time he’s not stupid enough to go chasing any lead based solely on Katherine’s word. Thankfully however, Bonnie offers another way they might be able to find her. Finding an empty classroom (surprise, surprise – it’s Mystic Falls High, so there’s a LOT of them) she does a tracking spell using Jeremy’s blood (because it’s Elena’s family’s blood) to locate her on a map. Bonnie spell causes the blood to shift across the map, eventually pointing them to a town some 300 miles away. Jeremy argues with Stefan about going, but when he says he’ll go alone rather than take Jeremy, Damon shows up and tells them he won’t be alone, using Stefan’s words right back at him: ‘it’s Elena.’ As the boys argue, Bonnie secretly finds her nose bleeding from the strain of the spell. She hides her condition before Damon, Stefan and Jeremy see; it’s clear that she is determined to keep the nature of how vulnerable doing magic makes her, as much of a secret as she can for as long as possible.
Damon and Stefan set off driving to the house, after Jeremy uses satellite images of the area they were pointed to, to determine that the old house was the only valid option as a legit hiding place in the area. As they drive, Stefan says thankyou for his older brother’s help, but Damon shrugs off his little speech and asks to not bond. It’s Stefan who comes out with it and addresses the elephant question in the front seat, though: is Damon helping because he wants to help his brother get back the girl he loves, is is he just helping to get back the girl he also loves. Wow. Stefan I love you, but way to rub it in, baby bro. OW.
But not to be outdone, as Damon drives, he starts on a blood bag he brought for the trip, teasing Stefan about the fact that he will need it to be strong enough for what they’re about to do. Stefan takes eventually comes clean, though: he wants some of the human stuff, and he knows he can have it now without going mental like last time. Why? He has been drinking human blood a little every day. And not just any blood: Elena’s.
Your baby bro is drinking the blood of the girl you love but who belongs to him. Personally, I thought Damon’s behaviour was quite measured in response then: he asks Stefan if he remember who he used to be, and asks if he thinks Elena – had she known that guy – would still treat him as her Bite in Shining armour then.
At his house, Bonnie and Jer wait together (in his bedroom – the obvious location for waiting in Mystic Falls) for any news about Elena. Just as she tells him everything will be okay, Bonnie suddenly realises there is another spell she might be able to use to help her best friend: she’s going to try and get a message to her. Asking Jeremy for those two staple witchy ingredients – a candle and a hairbrush – Bonnie writes a note then hold it out in her hand, magicking it until it’s on fire. BUt the wicked strain of it causes her nose begins to bleed again, worse this time. She just manages the spell before passing out on the bed, leaving a horrified Jeremy crying out for her to wake up.
Elena questions her captors, again, only this time she finds that Rose is a little more forthcoming with information. Rose tells Elena that she’s not the one who actually wants her: she’s just the delivery girl. Rose and Trevor’s plan is to give her to Elijah – who Rose describes as Elena’s worst nightmare – and the Originals, the reason for this being that Rose & Trevor have been on the run themselves, for over 500 years. How does Elena fit into all of this?
She, as it turns out – not that bloody moonstone – is the key to breaking the Sun & Moon curse. She is a Petrova doppelganger, and whilst the moonstone binds the curse, only her death can break the curse. Elena is horrified: no wonder the Originals want her to kill her. As a little aside in their conversation though, Rose confirms that she too knows the Salvatores – even going so far as to say a common friend tried to set her up with Stefan some hundred years ago, who later it turns out is Lexi. And you can’t help but think that if Lexi was the friend she truly claimed to be to Stefan, she wouldn’t have tried to set him up with a(nother) homiciadal maniac. But for whatever good Lexi may have seen in her, Rose is determined. Elena is their bargaining chip away from their deaths, and they plan to use her.
It is Trevor though, who tells Elena specifically why they’re running from the Originals. He helped Katherine escape her fate when he’d been asked to guard her.
Oh my goodness. If they were all still around at the same time, Mason, Trevor and Damon would have made one HECK of an adorable I’ve-Been-Jilted-By-Katherine-Pierce Support Group. Don’t you think?
At the Gilbert house, Jeremy takes care of Bonnie who’s woken up. She says it’s the magic thats doing it to her and asks him in earnest not to say anything. He promises not to tell, but between the pair of them it’s easy to see that they’re just hoping the second spell worked.
Which it did. Elena finds Bonnie’s note – it tells her the boys are coming for her.
When Elijah arrives, Elena can instantly see their terror at the prospect of having to deal with someone so old, so powerful, but most importantly, who – it would seem – has a very good reason to wipe them off the face of the earth. As they wait, Trevor tries to back out, but Rose encourages him: Elijah might want Trevor dead for his weakness, but he wants the Petrova Doppelganger more. Betrayal is one thing. Potentially breaking the curse, is another much bigger one.
Rose goes to meet Elijah, who stands in the door frame in an elegantly cut suit and bearing a remarkably harrowing presence. He asks politely if they can go somewhere to talk, but it’s clear to anyone with more than 2 braincells to rub together that that is manners are only a very thin veil over the menace underneath. Despite her fear, Rose offers him the doppelganger in return for her freedom. Elijah doesn’t believe her, but Rose still asks Elijah to give her his word that she has his pardon, because she can produce the impossible person she speaks of. Following her, finally he sees Elena for himself. He takes a long sultry smell of her neck and realises they are somehow, unbelievably telling the truth. A living, breathing Petrova Doppelganger truly does exist.
Cue the Fight Scene!
Outside, Damon and Stefan arrive. Damon surmises that whoever has Elena are the people who were after Katherine, and as such reminds Stefan of their age and strength. But as always, his baby brother just looks back at him and reiterates that whether he walks out intact or doesn’t walk out at all, he can’t think of a better reason to die for good. The look on Damon’s face says neither can he.
Still ignorant of their new and hostile company, Elijah takes Elena’s arm and tells both her and Rose that they’ll just be going, but not before he takes out Trevor in penance for having let Katerina go. Rose’s is absolutely shattered, but Elijah reminds her that her freedom has been granted – she doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardise it again so soon.
Elena speaks up again, and tries to use the moonstone to bargain. It takes a second or two, but Elijah realises that she is wearing vervain and rips the necklace away in order to compel her into telling them about the moonstone, which she does. Meanwhile, the boys play a little hide and seek, John Maclane a la Die Hard With A Vengeance style. Armed with a few weapons and juiced up on some blood (which I’m thinking was a little on the B Positive side, cause they’d need to be) they make their way inside.
Just as Elijah is about to whisk out of the house with his new posession, the brothers race around the room with vamp-speed: Damon steals Rose, Stefan steals Elena, hiding them both. Elijah makes a stake from a pole, threatening to kill whoever it is. Elena comes out playing fox, and launches a vervain grenade stright into his face, causing him to scream in pain but nevertheless, from which he recovers almost instantly. Stefan comes running out and shoots him with stakes, tackles him to the ground down a flight of stairs.
He gets up and is about to kill Stefan – his age means stakes are nowhere near as useful on him as on a new vampire – when Damon comes flying out and pins Elijah to a wall with his own giant stake. A relieved Elena stares down at him from the top of the staircase, relieved, grateful, and begins to run down towards Damon who is smiling at her utterly relieved, and almost a bit joyful. But she runs straight into Stefan’s arms. It’s easy to see how much this hurts, but he just gives her a small smile and mouths that’s okay when she mouths thankyou. It’s so hard watching Damon in this scene. Elena’s running to his brother’s arms but silently thanking him…it’s like someone is drawing vervain over his heart and he hasn’t quite learned how to mask it yet.
But for all intents and purposes, it’s over now. At home, Bonnie lays sleeping on Jer’s bed while he looks over her. He’s still watching her with a quiet intent, when he hears the door go. It’s Elena. She’s home. Bonnie and Jeremy hug her fiercely, and Elena tells Bonnie she got her message.
Oh lord. Evvybody come on down now for a big ol’ group hug. *sniffle*
Love And Other Bruises
Damon is pouring a drink in the living room. Sensing his brother, he asks Stefan where Elena is and Stefan says she’s home. It’s been a long day, but still, they discuss what Rose told Elena about her potential as the Doppelganger. Stefan says the only way they can protect Elena is if they don’t let Elena come between them (*Recapper takes last week’s Captain Obvious award from Katherine, hands it to Stefan til further notice*). What’s unexpected though, is Stefan’s apology: he says sorry for the first time outloud for turning Damon all those years ago – saying he was needy, selfish, but ultimately, that he did it because he just needed his big brother.
Once he’s alone, Stefan finds himself suddenly in the company of Rose, who has turned up to the Salvatore house to offer the brothers her help – not because they want it (which Stefan says thanks but they don’t), but because they’re going to need it, and every other ounce of help they can get, because the one who’s gunning for them is the ultimate vampire Big Bad of their world: Klaus.
But scene of the night, the ep – nay, even the season if this happens to be your particular favourite pairing – belonged to One. Damon. Salvatore.
Elena – battered, exhausted and emotionally wrecked – is about to turn in after a very, very brutal couple of days, and goes into her room to find possibly the one man in her life that causes more emotional complications than any other. Damon’s face is as torn as hers, but softened by a half smile as he holds up the vervain necklace Elijah had so harshly torn from Elena’s throat what must have seemed like a lifetime ago. Relief washes over her face as she thanks him, and goes to take it back. But he hesitates, holding it away from her just a little.
Rip. Rip. Rip. These are the sounds the little fissures in my Team Stefan All The Way resolve were making in my ears in that moment. When he says he needs to tell he something, and she asks why he needs to be holding the necklace for him to do that.
Because, he says, what he is about to say is the most selfish thing he’s ever said. She asks, almost begs him not to. But quietly, almost as though she is one who needs the encouraging, he says that it’s just something he just needs to say; all she has to do is hear it.
He loves her.
We’ve known that for a long time, but much like in real life, they are words that are infinitely more profound and powerful once said aloud. And he does so with such a simple, broken honesty that I can honestly say in that moment I was 100 percent down to my bones on the elder Salvatore’s side. But it’s more than that. He says because he loves her, he can’t be selfish with her. They are a sad echo in a way of his earlier conversation with Stefan. Damon looks into Elena’s eyes and says he doesn’t deserve her, but Stefan does. And just like that, pressing his lips to her forehead as though it’s for the last time, after he tells her how desperately he wishes she did not have to forget at the things he’s just said, he stares into her face and compels her to forget for her own good, erasing her memory of the moment Damon Salvatore finally bared his soul to the one woman he loves more than the needs of his own heart.
She remembers nothing as she finds herself standing lost in the final breath of a moment she will never remember; the breeze billowing through her open window, and her missing locket returned to her neck.
And Then, Just When You Thought It Was Safe…
In the dark, Elijah stands pinned gruesomely, and apparently dead, to the wall of the plantation wall where he had been left to rot hours ago by his prey and her rescuers.
One can only think, as he somehow wakes, pulls the giant stake from his heart and sends it thumping to the floor, that it would have been so much easier had he actually stayed that way.
When not working, shopping, tweeting or trying to find her house keys, Erin Brown is a writer and blogger based in Sydney, Australia. She loves rain, thunderstorms; brooding vampires, reading, Coldplay, Bill Shakespeare, winter, red wine, killer heels, everything Bruce Springsteen, and has a clinically-proven penchant for chocolate, the supernatural and action movies. For more of her writing, you can visit her website @ www.mythconception.wordpress.com. If you’ve lost her, your best bet is to look in Borders or the shoe section.